Defining, Tracking ‘Uptime’ in the School Bus Industry

Written by Robert T. Pudlewski

With more than 30,000 parts in stock for all makes and models, Auto-jet keeps your maintenance shop on schedule. And Auto-jet is your single source for radiators, DPFs, and EGRs too!


Rich Straw National Sales Manager

here are many industry suppliers—both original equipment and after-market manufacturers, plus individual fleet operators—that are marketing their products, systems and software to improve the school bus transportation program’s “uptime,” especially in terms

of vehicle performance. Each have a sound basis for contributing to improv- ing what was once exclusively called “in-service.” Most use integrated diagnostic recording systems, software and back-office

support that are designed to measure performance. We are now seeing with today’s highly technical school bus operations and maintenance processes from industry suppliers not only a focus on the maintenance uptime con- tribution but also measurement of the impact that people, training, facilities, equipment, supplies, and vehicle types have on system uptime. The optimal goal is to achieve systemwide, 100-percent functional uptime

by using metrics to measure every aspect of the student transportation program against planned objectives. Those objectives are effective manage- ment and compliance of the operating budget, human resources, training, labor utilization, vehicle, routing, and maintenance. School bus operation uptime can only be effectively measured by using

a series of metrics that represent the percentage of time that all elements of the school bus transportation program are successfully operational. This means establishing accurate baseline goals for functional transportation de- partment program metrics—operations, maintenance, purchasing, etc.—and measuring performance against those metrics. Identifying your goals is key to successful program management. School bus uptime success goes well beyond just measuring the transpor-

tation program’s service policy and procedure compliance. Measuring uptime includes the quality of parts and lubricants that are used in keeping the bus on the road and achieving the lowest vehicle life cycle maintenance cost. If you have attended any industry trade shows recently, you would have seen an emphasis by OEM suppliers on the newest vehicle technology of inte- grating electronic recording capability of their vehicles with the support they provide. These capture and organize the many types of data the vehicle can provide—all with the capability to help achieve the goal of improving uptime. These systems may also offer compatibility with after-market software that is capable of bus routing and human resource monitoring.

Unprecedented Changes Fleet operations staff, drivers and maintenance professionals are faced

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with new technologies and decisions in a rapidly advancing environment. While fleet tracking has been around for many years, new technology has unprecedented detail and predictive capabilities. It enables greater control over safety, compliance and cost. Hundreds of fleet monitoring software apps are designed to reduce your costs that are necessary to support your organization’s return on investment (ROI). However, when the initial vendor evaluation process is not thorough, complications, as well as scope-creep, time-creep and cost-creep can trickle

24 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2020

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